Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Tuesday 30 June 2009

My Zero Waste Day

As I have already blogged about here, I promised to go waste free for a day and if I failed I said I would sit in a Compost bin...

We already reduce our purchase of "stuff" by growing our own food and making meals from scratch, etc... reuse containers and tubs for other purposes rather than throwing them "away" ( not that there is any such place!) compost everything which can be composted, buy stuff in the recyclable option if at all possible, and generally produce very little waste.

Typically we "throw away" into the Landfill bin about 200g of waste a week, usually plastics we do not have the ability to recycle here.

So when I went on to the Recycle Week 2009 website, I found it hard to find a challenge that would, well, challenge me! Recycling, composting, food waste reduction, re use etc etc , we do all those already!

Then I saw the "go waste free for a day" option... hmmm well I thought, "why not?"

So...I signed up and my forfeit, if I failed, was to sit in a compostbin. And Compostman was emailed by the Recycle Now team, to check I actually did it!

I decided Sunday would be a good day to do my challenge, for no special reason other than I had been too busy the rest of the week to make notes or take photos! I also decided I was NOT going to make a special effort, I was just going to do my usual stuff and see what waste I generated.

So breakfast on Sunday, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and toast and butter and tea. Fruit from garden, stored in old containers of soft fruit bought from shops in the past - ideal for re use as that is what they were designed to hold!

Bananas, as usual, bought in compostable packaging or "naked".

Bread, home made, stored in the freezer in re used ( many many times) bread bags. Ingredients bought in bulk and the packaging ( paper and foil) recycled

Butter from foil or a tub, which is always washed and recycled or re used as a storage/freezer container many times...

At 11 am, so far, so good!

I fed the cats with cat biscuit from a cardboard box ( recycled when empty) and cat meat from cans or foil trays.

You may remember I agonised and ranted a bit over this in a previous post? Well we made a decision to only buy cans or foil trays as a result of our calculations and have stuck to our choice ever since. Likewise the cat biscuit is ALWAYS in card or paper containers so it can be recycled or composted after emptying.

I made some tea, composting the tea bags as always and rinsing and recycling the milk container.

Sometimes I reuse the containers as watering spouts for plants in the garden too!

I did some vacuuming, emptying the bag into the compost bin, and went to clean out the chickens ( all three houses!) and yes, everything went into the compost bins! All this is normal practice for us, I didn't do anything special!

Lunch was tomatoes, cucumber and cheese muffins for Compostgirl and shop bought quiche and a piece of left over home made pizza from Sat night for Compostman and I plus some home grown salad and some shop bought tomatoes. The quiche was in a foil container and a cardboard box, both of which were recycled. The tomatoes were in a card container, which went in the compost bin.

We had coffee ( filter paper and grounds composted) and Compostgirl had some juice ( from a tetra pak, which will go in the tetra pak recycling bin in Ledbury, which I helped to get put in place!)

Our Kitchen compost caddy.

I nipped out to do some shopping, take some recycling to the HWS and get some petrol, taking my shopping bags with me, so no waste there!

More tea was drunk during the afternoon ( tea bags composted) and other drinks of water were consumed as was some more fruit by Compostgirl. The scraps of strawberry she left over were composted.

Our evening meal was roast chicken, new potatoes, broad beans, sweetcorn and broccoli. We also had some wine. The veg was no problem, all but the sweetcorn had been grown by us or a neighbour so no packaging, the sweetcorn can was washed and recycled and the peelings were composted, the wine bottle was washed and added to the winemaking supplies

BUT the chicken came in a thin plastic bag!

Oh no, I had some non recyclable waste to dispose of! It weighed 15 g!

We then ate some grapes, the punnet was added to my supplies of containers I use to grow salads in, but the outer plastic film, again, was of a sort not recyclable in my area! Oh no, another 5 g !

So, at the end of Sunday we had 2 bits of plastic film to put in the Landfill bin.
weighing a grand total of 20 g.

In a week we usually put out about 150 g of waste, usually plastic stuff I can't avoid or re use in some way.

Does my only 20 g of domestic waste mean I " get let off" my forfeit? :-0 Personally, I don't think it should, , as "Every little hurts" to paraphrase a well know supermarket.....and we DID send stuff to Landfill, so it wasn't a zero waste day.

I COULD have made my life easier by choosing a different meal for dinner...but I didn't think of that! AND if I had, it would have seemed to be cheating , somehow! I wanted to do a zero waste day as far as possible on a normal sort of day!

I think I will have to try harder ;-)

Have any of you tried a zero waste day? How did you get on? Was it hard? or was it easy?


  1. Oooo, you little minx. You know how to spin a good tale; you had me glued to my seat and what a close shave!

    It's weird, isn't it, how we let down our guard for a moment and something sneaks in?

    Well, I think you did brilliantly, but I have to know how long you are going to sit on the compost heap for. I might have to pop over with my video camera LOL!

    Well done, a great day and a most entertaining story :)

  2. @ Mrs Green
    When are you free this week?

    I would be more than happy for you to come over, you and Compostman can witness the forfeit! ( and LMG can come and play in the wood?)

    I am a bit disapointed, I must say....I COULD have cheated by using something from a bag in the freezer, which wouldn't have generated any waste...but I thought that would be failing in the spirit of the challenge!

    Trouble is, if you buy organic food, as we do, it invariably comes in packaging, so as to stay separate from non organic food ( this is a requirement of the certification process)

    Unless you buy from an organic shop, which I do, usually, but the grapes were bought when I was in Bromyard last wednesday :-(

    Hmm don't get me started on the builders skip in the yard, either....!

  3. We have not yet tried a waste free day though when at the store, we try to only buy items with easy to recycle or reuse packaging. I assumed that everyone had plastic recycling though we do not have glass recycling here. We save glass and then carry it with us to another town that does have recycling. *whew* We will have to pick a day and make it a waste free day. I'll blog about our successes/failures.

  4. Nicely done! I was half expecting to see some mention of humanure. But perhaps some unmentionables are just too unmentionable!

  5. @Annette

    We have *some* plastic recycling skips in Ledbury, but not film or bags unfortunately!


    Well....we have a septic tank system here, which soaks away into the wood, so the trees are using at least some of our waste! It is pumped out very rarely, I think its about every 8 years for us, because it works so well!

    I AM planning on building a composting toilet, though, so maybe next year's post WILL contain some humanure references


  6. Brillianta post, lots to think abaout there. We have the same septic tank system as you, at least that's one thing less to worry over.

    Sue xx

  7. Oh' I think you did a swell job! It really is much harder than anyone would think...

    you are right stuff sneaks up on you even when you are looking.

    Great job!


  8. I put out a bag of landfill waste this week which weighed 120 g...so not a bad week by any means....

    I wish I could get it down to zero, though.........

  9. Wow! That is an amazing accomplishment! Its neat to see you're a great example of one helping to keep a green earth.

  10. Your (almost) zero waste day is inspiring. It's made me think about all of my waste and what I can do differently. Thanks.

  11. Thanks for sharing your day :-) I've never done a zero-waste day, but your post makes me want to try - after I figure out what waste I would generate during an average week. Like you, I agree that doing the challenge on as normal a day as possible makes sense. I'd say you did wonderfully!

    (And the couple grams of waste - they are completely cancelled out by this post. By sharing your experience (and your blog in general) I'm sure you inspired many others to take on a zero-waste day that will save much more than those few grams.)

  12. :-)

    Thank you all

    But I AM going to sit in a compostbin...soon!

  13. Yes, this is truly inspiring, partly because my amount of landfill would be pretty small and so could be shrunk further.

    I have a sneaky plan to try to only eat crisps at the pub so the waste packets are their landfill, not mine!

  14. Curiously this post KEEPs getting the attention of an asiatic ( china/japan) site peddling porn....?

    I keep on moderating out the offending posts, but my apologies in advance if any slip through......

    Why? do they keep on? I have at least one a day? and it's nasty stuff..( and I say that and *I* count myself as a progressive, liberal, an it harms none, sort of gal......?)

    but IMO this stuff is just plain nasty....and I want no part of it....

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